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Should you go pro?

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Mar 28, '16


poker-ships-jonathan-littleEvery time I do a webinar where members of my training site,, can log in and ask me questions, I find myself answering one specific question: “When should I become a professional poker player?” To hopefully avoid re-answering the same question again in the future, here are my thoughts on the subject.

Let’s assume you play $2-$5 no-limit hold’em at a local card room, which is about the stakes most people play who ask the question. Continue Reading ...

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Jonathan Little is a two-time World Poker Tour champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


over 5 years ago

Overall well written article with good advice on this subject. Though, as you hinted, your 'assumption of $50/hour' as a sustainable win rate in today's 2/5 game is very unlikely in my opinion. I believe that would be the highest win rate, if you game-selected incredibly well or were blessed with such a loose, amateur-ridden game in your area. However, realistically running at 15 BB/100 and earning $50/hour at 2/5 should not be a number that an aspiring professional should 'assume' or 'expect' he will make. If you high ball your estimate, you are setting yourself up for letdown and budgeting issues, especially during downswings or you finding out you're not as good as you thought. It's better to lowball and assume $25/hour. Aspiring pros should have a realistic expectation of variance, especially in live poker. While your winrate will likely be much higher than online, if you run bad, it can still take 6-12 months (easy) to begin to get any kind of a sample in to start to overcome variance (about 10,000 hands). It's also important to take into account travel expenses to get to your game. If you don't live in Vegas, the average travel time to a live 2/5 game is probably an hour. Making a comfortable living at poker is very hard, and most people severely underestimate the variance of the game---especially those that are newer to poker or haven't faced stiff competition at higher levels. You can be a winning player and have losing years of live poker playing full-time. Most people aren't ready for this because their egos are only set on recent accomplishments, and thus, are yet to be humbled. I wouldn't recommend someone playing professionally, unless they can make 'substantially higher' than what they could otherwise make working a 'normal' job to make up for the stress and variance of the lifestyle. If they want to get to high stakes to be able to do that, but aren't there yet, they should at least be working part-time to pay for their life and have a Plan B.

About Me: Former Professional for 7 years. Now 'Normal Job,' Part-Timer


over 5 years ago

$250 a month for insurance? anyone that can get that rate please sign me up!


over 5 years ago

I only pay 150/month for insurance and it was 85 3 years ago. Thanks Obama.

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